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History[edit | edit source]
The first inhabitants of Tuvalu were Polynesians. The origins of the people of Tuvalu are addressed in the theories regarding migration into the Pacific that began about 3000 years ago. During pre-European-contact times there was frequent canoe voyaging between the islands. The pattern of settlement that is believed to have occurred is that the Polynesians spread out from Samoa and Tonga into the Tuvaluan atolls, with Tuvalu providing a stepping stone to further migration into the Polynesian outliers in Melanesia and Micronesia.
In 1568, Spanish navigator was the first European to sail through the archipelago, sighting the island of Nui during his expedition in search of Terra Australis. The island of Funafuti was named Ellice's Island in 1819; the name Ellice was applied to all of the nine islands.
The Ellice Islands came into Great Britain's sphere of influence in the late 19th century, as the result of a treaty between Great Britain and Germany relating to the demarcation of the spheres of influence in the Pacific Ocean. The Ellice Islands were administered as a British protectorate by a Resident Commissioner from 1892 to 1916, as part of the British Western Pacific Territories, and then as part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony from 1916 to 1976.
A referendum was held in December 1974 to determine whether the Gilbert Islands and Ellice Islands should each have their own administration. As a consequence of the referendum, the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony ceased to exist on 1 January 1976, and the separate British colonies of Kiribati and Tuvalu came into existence. Tuvalu became fully independent within the Commonwealth on 1 October 1978.
Timeline[edit | edit source]
1400 - The first settlers are Samoans or Tongans
1826 - The islands are named after a British Member of Parliament named Edward Ellice
1865 - The London Missionary Society installs Samoan pastors on various islands
1892 - The islands form part of a protectorate of Britain, known as the Gilbert and Ellice Islands
1915 - Britain annexes them as the Gilbert and Ellice Island Colony
1975 - The Ellice Islands break away from the Gilbert Islands and become known as Tuvalu
1978 - The islands become independent with the name Tuvalu
1979 - The USA gives Tuvalu four islands that have been US territory